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Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
12
The Judgement of Paris: The Revolutionary Decade That Gave the World Impressionism
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on 23 September 2016
great book
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on 9 February 2017
I had read biographies of most of the people mentioned in this well written book, this gave a wonderful over view of their times.
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on 30 December 2010
I have just finished reading this amazing book which is full of detailed information and history of the time of the emergence of the Impressionists.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in painting and who thinks they know all they need to know about this time in the history of art.

It's an exhilarating read which I could not put down. Well done Ross King!

I have read King's 'Brunelleschi's Dome' and 'Michaelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling'
both brilliant books which I have bought for friends to enjoy as I have.

I would thoroughly recommend 'The Judgement Of Paris' as once it's finished you will miss it.
Ross King thank you for introducing me to Meissonier who was completely wiped out of my art education.
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on 4 November 2016
I'm still reading this book, but so far it's been an absolute pleasure to read. Ross King's knowledge of this time period is first rate, as his is writing.
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on 5 May 2017
Ross King has written a number of popular art histories. This too is enjoyable and informative. However, the title misleads. The decade in question runs from 1863, the years in which the Impressionists began their careers, but not a period in which they enjoyed any success. Indeed their first exhibition was in 1874, when, notoriously, their work was derided.

Moreover, and even so, most of the group are introduced to us only briefly. Manet alone receives significant attention, although he showed at none of their Exhibitions and indeed “cannot properly be called an Impressionist” [364]. Even he plays a supporting role to a painter hardly known today, Ernest Meissonier.

As a study of Meissonier this is compelling. He was recognized as the greatest artist in Europe by the 1860s and his paintings commanded extraordinary prices. Only after his death did his reputation begin to falter and then dissolve, just as, and not coincidentally, Manet’s star begin to rise.

Throughout the text and in an epilogue the author seeks to explain their respective careers and posthumous fates. I think the reader is rather left to draw her own conclusions.

The narrative is told through the annual Salons that in this period determined success and failure, fame and forget. We read how often Manet was rejected and if accepted mocked. Meissonier rather went from triumph to glory. Interwoven is a general history of the Second Empire culminating in the disaster of Sedan the Commune. King does not throw up anything new here but he does show how to understand art we must have context. Less attention is paid to technique and style, but key works are discussed and analysed.

The two painters can be seen as poles apart, but their paths did cross – literally – and they had many things in common. At the end one must wonder if Meissonier was treated too generously then and too unkindly now.

What about Manet? The reception of his work is told through liberal quotes from contemporary critics. Today these are themselves offered up to students to be mocked. And yet I think they may have had a point. King shows just how much Manet owed to the Old Masters – Velazquez and Goya in particular. He gave them a modern, ironic twist but even so. His style was very flat, composition awkward and maritime scenes depict sails blowing in opposite directions. Some of his pictures – Dejeuner sur l’Herbe - have now passed into another zone altogether, beyond criticism, but others might repay a more questioning look and indicate a contrary impression.

The story catches some neat details. The feline on Olympia’s bed is well-known [is there a better known cat in art?]; King suggests that her sisters may have been on Manet’s plate during the Siege of Paris.

In all a good read and thought-provoking. Perhaps too many questions, not enough answers. And – as noted – an odd title. I assume that “Art in the Second Empire” would not have shifted so many copies.
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on 15 November 2010
It's a fantastic study of different styles of work and personalities during that time. I could not put the book down and used the internet to read more about certain paintings and artists.

My book has a different cover to the one I am writing the review for. Mine is dark blue with the Arc de Triomphe on it. The bibliography in the book has references to many, many interesting reads.

Despite giving this book a 5-star rating, I was annoyed not to have the picture of each of the painting referred to by the author, in the book itself. Having a picture of each of the paintings would have made this book an even better experience. I finally got over the frustation of not being able to study a photo of the paintings by searching for them on the internet.

This is the first book by Ross King that I have read and it's been a very rewarding read. I am looking at his other books.
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on 30 July 2015
new. arrived in good time
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on 15 October 2014
Quick and value.
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on 2 April 2013
Haven't finished reading yet, but so far offers a fascinating background into two contemporary artists with different experiences of showing their art in Paris in mid 19th century, can't wait to see how these two stories come together!
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on 12 August 2014
Brilliant - one of the most thoughtful and insightful books on this much studied period.
A first peep at the bibliography was very reassuring - King, as ever, covers the literature that so many overlook.
Comprehensive, fascinating and superbly argued - a really great read.
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